“I suppose the role of character is for the individual to rise to a situation. If it were not for the situation, we would never have heard of him. So that you might say that character is the product of an exceptional demand by the situation upon human ability. I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.” — Will Durant
Will Durant was an American historian, philosopher and writer. With his wife, he wrote The Story of Civilization, 11 volumes covering the whole story of humanity. The words opening this post are extracted from an interview in which he shared his thoughts on thoughts on the “Great Men and Women” in history. The heroes, the ones who shaped history and whose lives we study in the hope to become better.
In the same interview, he said that “the hero is a product of a situation rather than the result being a product of the hero. It is demand that brings out the exceptional qualities of man.“
I love the idea of the hero as someone cut from a different cloth, with exceptional skills, wit and brilliance.
However, I know we are all made of the same substance. I know we all have within us the potential to be heroes. And I know that hard times, like the one we are living now, can bring out the hero and the heroine from every man and woman. But it can also bring out the worst, the villain.
What makes the difference is a small choice. The choice of how we want to respond to the challenge.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor E Frankl